Story submissions so far this month: 3
1. "A Lively Imagination" to Morgen Bailey - Pending.
2. "Choosing Chains" to The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction - Declined.
3. "An Arduous and Beautiful Duty" - Phobos Magazine - Pending.
I have gotten at least one reason as to why "Choosing Chains" keeps getting declined: It begins in a tavern, which is where all good (and bad) thinly-disguised D&D campaign stories start, with the assembly of the party. Doing this was a completely newb mistake.
Now, I am well aware that editors don't want to see thinly-disguised D&D campaign stories. It honestly never occurred to me that the story starting in a tavern might be a problem. Tarran lives in a tiny riverside fishing village. Its tavern is where people hang out--either there or at the well on laundry day. Every year on his sister's birthday, Tarran goes to the tavern to grieve, because he is always otherwise obligated on the anniversary of her death each year. He goes, and he drinks a pitcher of their strongest alcohol. It never helps him to forget, and he goes home once he's done drinking the contents.
It just never occurred to me that the location where he does this would be considered so much of a cliche that the mere use of it in the beginning scene of a story might turn anyone off. I had thought people might be turned off because the story is dark, bitter, sad, and horrific at various places. I also think it's funny in places, but that's sick, twisted me.
So one of my upcoming projects will be to redesign the story with the beginning in a more original location. I have no idea if that will help, but it certainly can't hurt. Many thanks to C. C. Finlay for pointing this out to me, or I would never have even thought of it.
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"An Arduous and Beautiful Duty" is what I finally decided to call my Fomorian story that takes place in the waters of the Minch, off the west coast of Scotland. Hey, at least it's a more original setting! I am still not entirely satisfied with this story, but deadline was too close, and I will be busy this weekend, so I wanted to get it out. There are always other places I can send it if Phobos declines it. I haven't mentioned this story by name previously in my blog because I didn't have a title for it, and I try to categorize my stories by title so I can look up posts in Blogspot easily.
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I read in an interview of him in Deep Magic that Brandon Sanderson often writes the endings to his stories first.
You all might not know this, but Sanderson is the god before whom I bow down and cry out, "I'm not worthy!" That used to be Marion Zimmer Bradley, but, well...ahem. Anyway, Sanderson's Mistborn novels blew me away with how good they are and with how he uses a common fiction trope to make the reader think one thing is supposed to happen when, in fact, the complete opposite is the case. Seriously--read Mistborn. You will never see the plot twist coming until it smacks you in the forehead with the force of a sledgehammer. I am still in awe. Mistborn is the best novel I have ever read.
Part of the difficulty I have with writing stories to deadlines is in figuring out what the story is that I want to tell. I do a plot outline based on the submission criteria for whatever market I'm submitting to, but very often it doesn't satisfy me. I have always thought that I needed a road map, but maybe what I really need is to see the solution so I can work backward from there. So I'm going to assign myself the task of writing three or four endings a week, using story ideas I want to write about, and see if those satisfy me (and potential editors) better. I like that this will force me to think very hard and in some detail from the outset about my characters and their motivations.
Have any of you ever tried this technique? How has it worked for you? Has it helped?